In my ever growing goal of making as many resources available online for new dancers as I can, I am tackling another hot topic: bounced checks. Now some of you may have been lucky enough to never have this happen. But I have had it happen to me and also had it happen to a dancer who was on the schedule I was in charge of. I will say that this is why contracts are so important. It is something that can be covered in the contract and also having payment terms in general is a good thing even if a bounced check isn’t specifically addressed.
A bounced check is something that can happen even when it’s a weekly restaurant gig. Sometimes it’s an innocent mistake and a deposit wasn’t timed correctly or it can happen when there is a change in ownership and accounts are closed out. This is why it is important not to hang onto checks and make sure you deposit them promptly.
So we’ve gone over how to prevent it from happening again but what do you do if it happens. How do you handle it professionally? Who do you go to? Well, if your venue has a restaurant liaison (scheduler) then that would be the person you go to. Give them the date, the number of the check and show them that it bounced. Also, let them know if there was a bounced check fee so that that can be covered as well. That person will go to the owner and try to facilitate a resolution. If you do not have a liaison, then contact the owner and set a time to meet. I have found that doing this in person is much easier. If you do not have time to visit the venue then calling will suffice. In a calm, non- accusatory manner, let them know what has happened. Typically they will take care of it by either re-issuing you a check or offering to pay you in cash.
If this is a case where the previous owner issued you the check and the new venue did not then this might be a little stickier. Legally, the new venue is not responsible for bills held by the previous business. They may be gracious enough to pay you but maybe not. The best move would be to contact the previous owner and make them aware of the situation. And be persistent. Offer to meet them somewhere to collect your pay so that they cannot delay. Again, your dancer liaison may be able to facilitate this process and make sure that the previous owner follows through.
The worse case scenario is that they ignore all of your requests and refuse to honor the check. Depending on the amount you could choose to take them to court or you might have to let it go. The lesson is clear, make sure to deposit your checks as soon as you can and always have a clear contract in place!